• Le 20 septembre 2019
    De 14:00 à 16:00
    Campus Tertre

Responsable : Aurore Gonzalez, Harvard University 
Titre : Free Choice in French constituent unconditionals

Joint work with Karoliina Lohiniva (NYU/University of Geneva)
 

The realization of unconditionals across languages is subject to variation (Haspelmath & König 1998). In this talk, we zoom in on constituent unconditionals in French. French is particularly interesting because it allows two ‘versions’ of the adjunct clause: a short one headed by a bare wh-word (resembling the English wh-ever unconditional), and a long one headed by a free choice item, namely wh que ce soit lit. ‘wh that it is’. We propose a unified analysis of the two versions. On the syntactic side, we claim that the adjunct clauses involve the relativization of a free choice item, which itself involves the relativization of a wh-phrase. The difference between short and long versions is due to ellipsis. On the semantic side, we claim that the que ce soit relative clause provides the quantificational domain of the existential wh-word. The free choice item wh que ce soit then combines with a modalized relative clause, and acquires universal force as an implicature that arises when the assertion interacts with a set of exhaustified alternatives (Chierchia 2013). We capture the licensing of free choice items in constituent unconditionals by assuming that each exhaustified alternative must be viable, i.e. true in some world compatible with speaker knowledge (Dayal 2013), and derive core interpretational properties of constituent unconditionals by relying on exhaustification and the principle of viability. Our proposal is closely related to recent work on alternative unconditionals in Hungarian (Szabolcsi 2019) and free choice in Romance (Caponigro & Fălăuș 2017), and contrasts with previous work on English, where the CU adjunct clause is analyzed as a wh-question (Rawlins 2013).